Barbecues don’t have to be all about the sausages and burgers, and can instead be about delicious dishes made using fresh, healthy produce. So if you’re trying to slim down for summer, make your barbecue your friend!
Forget fatty sausages, calorific burgers, mayonnaise-loaded potato salad, bread buns, sweet sauces, cheese and more. And think wonderful lean cuts of meat, fish, tasty salads, jacket potatoes, home-made and healthy sauces, and creative BBQ dishes.
Cooking food on the barbecue is a healthy way to enjoy meals, provided you use the right ingredients. And sacrificing on fat and calorie content does not mean sacrificing on taste – with a bit of planning, you can create mouth-watering barbecue dishes that will satisfy and help you stay trim too.
Best of all – you can still barbecue your favourite foods, simply opting for a low-fat version. For example, there’s no need to skimp on the sauces and dips as you can make your own instead. For a spicy tomato relish, use a tin of chopped tomatoes and add in fresh ingredients to spice it according to your personal tastes – finely chop an onion, garlic, chilli and parsley and mix together for a flavoursome relish that’s good for you too. Make your own Tzatziki which is so versatile it makes a wonderful side sauce for fish dishes as well as a dip for raw vegetables and kebabs. Simply mix low-fat yogurt with some finely chopped cucumber, garlic, and mint. Or if you’re a houmous fan, you can create your own using chickpeas, low-fat yoghurt, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and coriander to season.
When it comes to main dishes to barbecue, set your imagination free. Grab some barbecue skewers and have some fun! Try mixing chicken cut into cubes or prawns with chopped pepper and aubergine and cherry tomato, marinated in a lime, garlic, honey and soy sauce marinade you whizzed together yourself.
Of course, the great thing about barbecuing kebabs is you can pretty much make them to order, provided you have a range of suitable fresh produce and skewers – so one option is to let people make their own on the day. To get you started, though, try using fish such as monkfish tail as it’s meaty and won’t flake on the barbecue as a base, or chicken or lean meat, or simply vegetables. Vegetables like peppers, aubergines, mushrooms, onions, and cherry tomatoes are particular good for adding to the BBQ.
If you don’t want to make a marinade, you can brush the kebabs before cooking on the barbecue with some olive oil instead.
Other healthy barbecue options include jacket potatoes, which are so easy to cook. Wrap each potato in foil and add directly to the hot coals for about an hour – but there’s no urgency to have everything else ready in time as once the potatoes are ready, simply place them away from direct heat so they stay warm until you’re ready for them. Corn on the cob is often a favourite too, and so tasty there’s no need to serve with butter.
Variety is the key to healthy eating, so in addition to your main dishes and sauces, have an array of salads. A green leaf salad is always popular, but you could also offer cous cous, roasted vegetables, sliced tomatoes with slices of mozzarella and basil drizzled lightly with olive oil, cooked chickpeas with coriander, and a vegetable rice salad.
When it comes to the sweet part, fruit makes a fantastic pudding, so try barbecuing pineapple slices or bananas for a warm and delicious dessert. Alternatively make a big bowl of fruit salad and serve with low-fat yogurt or ice cream.
What are your favourite healthy barbecue dishes?